Thursday, July 25, 2013

Hello...Anyone still out there?

I talked to my sister in Texas today.  She reminded me in her sweet way that she still checks my blog every once in awhile to see if the student with the red hoody has been replaced with a more current photo!

Alas!   (sigh)

I've neglected my blog for over a year and a half!

Mea Culpa!  (another sigh)

And, I even retired this year, so what's my problem?!  I should have more time, yah?

Ahhh...... (more sighs)

So I promised her--well, sorta gave her the indication--that I would try to get my act together and get this blog updated.  So much has happened.  Sooooo much!  And of course my sister, my past homestay students, (and you too, if you're still out there), would like to know and see photos of what's been going on, yah?

So watch this space.  Well, don't stare at it, because nothing will magically appear that quick!  But do come back soon, because I will try to catch you up to date with information and pics!

And that's a promise!


Homestay Mama

Friday, January 20, 2012

Snow Shots by Murtaja

Meet Murtaja, one of my newest homestay students from Saudi. He's an avid photographer and very creative with the camera.
Here are a few of my favorite shots that Murtaja took of our January snow:

Parallel Tracks

 Hail on the Azalea

Needing a Shovel

A Delicate Balance

A Real Balancing Act

And to think, not one of those billions of snowflakes is alike!  


Homestay Mama

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Happy New Year!


OK, I know the month is half over, but I'm wishing you all a happy new year, anyway!

Toshi, one of my former homestay students, surprised me with a gift from his mom and him. These are the traditional new year's gift crackers that are given among friends in Japan. Thank you, Toshi!
I'm sure there is a significance in each of these crackers, but before I could text Toshi to ask him, I hit the 'publish' button by mistake!  Not a good way to start out the blogging year, eh?


We got snow this week--quite a bit by Pacific Northwest standards.  This is Murtaja, a new student from Saudi.  This was the 2nd time he'd experienced snow!
This is Ahmed who just came from Saudi a couple weeks ago.  He's still acclimating to our cool, wet weather, and then we surprise him with snow--his very first experience with the fluffy white stuff.  He was all smiles!
You gotta admit, snow has a way of turning bare trees into a real work of art.
Last night the sky was pregnant with a new storm about to break over us and it captured my gaze..  I just had to get a picture, and took this one around 6:30 p.m.
It was snowing when I got up this morning.  I think we got around 6 inches.  But by the time I actually got around to measuring it, it had melted a little and had begun to crust over.
There is a certain ethereal beauty that snows leaves in its wake, don't you agree?.
It's not often that I get icicles from my eaves!

School was cancelled today, and all my homestay students got to sleep in this morning.  Even my boss called and told me to stay home!  So, it's been a lazy, fun, relaxing day.  We should have made a snowman, but one of my homestay students woke up with a sore throat, and the other didn't have the warm clothes for it!

Staying warm,


Homestay Mama

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Lights of Christmas

Last night I took a small group to The Lights of Christmas in Stanwood, an hour north of my home.  We were there for over 4 hours and still didn't see and do everything!  There are over a million lights on 15 walkable acres, plus live entertainment, activities for children, food, etc.
Here is our group.
"Peace On Earth"
In this lake scene (above and below), the lights changed to depict the cycle of the setting sun, 
and then the sunset..

This tree alone must have had several thousand lights!
Murtaja in front of the toy train depot.  (He took over half of the pictures I've posted.  He has an excellent camera and a good eye for composition.)
Kettle Korn for Sukinah and her daddy, Hussein.
DJ and Sue riding the Polor Express.
Dreauna and DJ in the candy cane tunnel.
Petting a little llama.
Listening to a local concert band perform.
Murtaja with acres of lights behind him.
I call this the gumball tree.
Fat penguins.
Not one bare branch on this tree!
Snow covered mountains and foothils made entirely of lights.
A model of a water wheel.
The Nativity
More mountains.
Acres and acres of lights.

This shows how the mountain lights are hung on the trees.

"Go in Peace, and the God of Peace go with you."

And this was just a fraction of the pictures we took!  As you can imagine, it is a hugely popular event --the largest of its kind in the Pacific Northwest.  An average of  50,000 people come to the 20-day event each year.  Over 800 volunteers donate more than 15,000 hours starting in September to get this event ready each year.  They also volunteer during and long after it is over taking down all those lights and carefully packing everything away for another year.  What a work of love!  

Still marveling over The Lights of Christmas,

Love, Homestay Mama

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Persian and American Friends

We are an informal group of local Persians and Americans who potluck together once a month at each other's homes.  What we have in common is first, a love of our Savior, Jesus Christ; secondly, a love of fellowship together; and last, but not least, a love of eating a delicious variety of healthy Persian, and American foods. Four of us are single, and the rest are married--and, I might add, to their first, and only, spouses.  That's quite an impressive record for married couples these days!  I'm next to the oldest in our group (our ages span from the early 40's to the mid 70's), but age doesn't make a difference to any of us.  My friends are such a blessing to me, it's like having a wonderful Christmas present all year long!
This month we met at Mitra and Esmaeil's home.  Mitra always puts on those extra special touches that make everything look so pretty.  I don't have her gift.  When it's my turn to host, I'm lucky if my house is clean!  Just look at all the beautiful Christmas touches Mitra added to her dining room.
She also froze pomegranate seeds in ice cubes and added them to a simple pitcher of water making it look so pretty and festive!  What a clever gal, she is!
Just look at this array of interesting (and beautiful) dishes.  Mitra made the bowl of yogurt in the front--it's a good accompaniment to the chicken.  Farzaneh made the bowl of tabbouleh in the back, one of my favorite salads.
Have you ever seen chicken drums this pretty?  Mitra removed the skin for all us cholesterol-conscious folks before seasoning and baking them. They were uber delicious!
Mavosh formed these cutlets with rice, onion and ground beef before dipping them in bread crumbs and frying them.  Mmmmmm--so tender and tasty!
Mitra made this fancy platter of rice--by adding lima beans, dill and saffron for flavor and color.
Mitra also experimented with quinoa--she added raisins, currants, and spices to give this dish a wonderful flavor.  If you haven't already guessed by now, Mitra is a gourmet cook!  She's been trying to teach me how to cook some of her culinary delights, but I'm a slow learner.
And what did I contribute?  Just a plain ol' platter of fresh vegetables and dip that weren't even worthy of a picture--trust me!

Grateful for my Persian and American friends,


Homestay Mama

Sunday, December 4, 2011

It's Starting to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Santa's helpers:  Ezra (Indonesia) and Tae (South Korea).  
First you feed them...

...then you get them to build the tree!  

In the past I'd take my students an hour north to Arlington where there's an excellent choice of Christmas tree farms, and we'd cut our own.  But every year little critters managed to hitch-hike home with us. Three years ago one of those critters spun its own Christmas decoration between the angel atop the tree and the ceiling, and that did it for me!  The very next year I switched from cut your own to build your own!

Ezra hangs the last decoration on the tree.

Then Tae exclaimed, "I've always wanted to hug a Christmas tree!"

Tae and Ezra even strung Christmas lights outside for me!

Santa's helpers were awarded chocolate brownies, ice-cream and sparkling cranberry juice
for all their labors.

Tae:  "Yes, Santa, I've been a good boy all year!" 

Oh, it's starting to look a lot like Christmas....


Homestay Mama